A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already.” It has leveled out now at 233 comments – which I think is a record at pomomusings. I think it was my claim that some people need to put their Bibles aside for awhile when dealing with this issue that brought out the masses. Pastor, theologian and author Jack Rogers left a comment on the post, in which he wrote:
“The problem of course, isn’t with the Bible, but with the interpretation that imposes a societal prejudice on texts that were not meant to address contemporary Christian people who are LGBT.” [Source]
He’s right. Obviously, as I mentioned in the post, the answer is not to throw out the Bible. However, we must look at the ways in which we have interpreted it that have brought us to our current situation. Rogers’s comment reminded me that I had picked up his “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality” a few years ago, but never got around to reading it. I finished it over Christmas and found it to be a very helpful and important book. I had the chance to meet Jack four years ago at the 2004 Covenant Network Conference at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago; he was my small group leader for the conference, and it was an honor to learn from him and hear his perspectives. Rogers is an example of someone who used to hold the traditional, conservative belief about homosexuality; through in-depth study of biblical texts and relationships with gay and lesbian people in the church, he has since come to an open and accepting position. Rogers writes, “I did not arrive at my conclusions overnight. I do not expect you to do so, either…My desire is to reframe the discussion regarding people who are homosexual so that we can better understand one another, heal our divisions, and move forward together in our churches” (16).
One of the aspects of this book I appreciate most is that Rogers speaks both as a pastor and an academic. Much of this book is written from a pastoral perspective; deeply aware of the hurt the Bible and the church have caused to the gay community. Rogers also cares deeply for the church, and wants to find a way for the church to be able to move past these debates and begin to heal. Rogers is especially committed to his denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA); he previously served as the Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the PC(USA). However, Rogers does not skimp on the academic side of this conversation. He is Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the author of many books.
Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing quotes and thoughts from Rogers’s book. I started to write an initial review of the book, but I began focusing on each chapter, and it was simply becoming too long. So I will be writing a blog post for each chapter and hoping that will provide some fodder for thoughtful conversation here. While I’ll be sharing some quotes from the book, I do encourage you to get the book yourself and spend some time with it. There is also a study guide for the book, which can be found here. I especially recommend this book to you if you are a part of the PC(USA). In his last chapter, Rogers offers some recommendations for the denomination that I think are particularly insightful, especially during the next year and a half. If you’re not Presbyterian – of the PC(USA) variety – you may not be aware of the vote that will be taking place over the next year or so. Individual presbyteries will be voting whether or not to accept a recommendation from the 218th General Assembly to rewrite G-6.0106b in the Book of Order (for more info, go here). The revised text would allow practicing LGBT persons to be ordained in the PC(USA). Similar votes have gone before the presbyteries before, and they have been voted down. We can only be hopeful that this time the outcome will be different.
As was clear with my post, “The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already,” this topic can really bring about a lot of conversation. I was encouraged by most of the conversation on that post, and hope that we can keep the conversation civil. If you have any questions about dialogue here at pomomusings, please read my Commenting Policy.
This post is part of an ongoing review of Jack Rogers’s book “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality.” Individual Chapter Reviews: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7. I also share some Final Thoughts about the book here.